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ICYMI: The Kansas City Star Editorial: Tale of 2 governors: Kansas’ Kelly rises to pandemic crisis. Missouri’s Parson in denial

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Today, the editorial board of the Kansas City Star called on Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to follow the lead of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on the COVID-19 pandemic. Parson is letting his state fall dangerously behind on the fight against the virus with his inaction and lack of communication. He has dismissed the need to ban large gatherings and declared that “it’s not going to come down to government to be able to fix this.” And just a few days ago, the conservative American Enterprise Institute ranked Missouri as just one of four states that have done “no statewide action or little public guidance.”
On the other side of the state line, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has been praised for taking “bold and absolutely necessary actions.” Gov. Kelly has been at the forefront of the pandemic, making Kansas the first state to close public schools for the rest of the academic year. She also banned public gatherings of over 50 people, halted evictions and foreclosures, suspended utility disconnects, and directed state employees to stay home. Kansans can count on Gov. Kelly to take the necessary steps to protect them and their loved ones.
“Democratic governors across the country are rising to the occasion,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director Christina Amestoy. “While Gov. Laura Kelly leads Kansas through this crisis with bold, decisive action, Mike Parson drags his feet and denies the seriousness of the situation. Parson should follow Gov. Kelly’s lead and step up for Missourians – before it’s too late.”
The Kansas City Star Editorial: Tale of 2 governors: Kansas’ Kelly rises to pandemic crisis. Missouri’s Parson in denial
Kansas and Missouri Republicans seem to think that this week is a lot like last week, and the one before that. It’s not, which is why Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has taken the bold and absolutely necessary actions that she has, closing all schools for the rest of the academic year and preventing foreclosures and evictions during this global coronavirus pandemic.
She was the first governor in the country to close all schools for the rest of the year. And since that’s so obviously what the whole country must and will eventually do, why put more lives in danger by delaying the inevitable?
Yet even as Johnson County reports “community spread” of the virus, meaning that the transmission has moved to another, more dangerous level, the most urgent action taken by Kansas Republican lawmakers has been to try and limit what they incorrectly see as overreaction and overstepping from Kelly.
In Missouri, where the first COVID-19 death was reported on Wednesday, Republican Gov. Mike Parson continues to take a frighteningly leisurely approach, arguing that school closures must be a local decision. On Wednesday, he again said it was up to each one of us to keep ourselves safe: “It is going to go back to personal responsibility.” And he noted that elsewhere in the world, individual efforts were starting to show impressive results.
Gov. Parson, elsewhere in the world and the country, people are on total lockdown. That’s how we’ve started to see major reductions in transmission, and your tepid suggestions that “maybe you don’t go to church” and “it will be up to individuals” make staying home sound optional rather than imperative. A total lockdown is coming, even if it arrives here dangerously late.
Both Parson and Kelly are low-key politicians — steady-as-she-goes types by nature — and both have benefited politically from making less exciting national news than their predecessors. But now Kelly has put aside her accustomed caution in response to this extraordinary challenge, while Parson has not.
The day will come, and soon, when Kansans of all political stripes will thank Laura Kelly for doing what she has done, while Missourians will blame Mike Parson for wasting time at what could have been a lifesaving moment.
The oddest thing about all of this official denial is the lag between the suddenly serious attitude of President Donald Trump, who belatedly seems to have been made to see the gravity of the situation, and that of Republicans in Missouri and Kansas. Trump spent weeks downplaying the threat, even calling criticism of his slow response a hoax. Now he’s right to say that this is war, and he’s in a sense a wartime president, even as he’s wrong to put Asian Americans in danger every time he insists on calling it the “Chinese virus.”
The window is closing for domestic travel, and for making key decisions like where we’re going to shelter in place. Here in the Midwest, we’ve had more time to react than they have on the coasts, which makes the stubborn refusal of Kansas and Missouri Republicans to admit what’s heading straight at us even more tragic.